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THE LOWDOWN: What is a man?

Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: What is a man?

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Not me! I ain’t writing no eulogy for another soul.
I wrote eulogies for two people. Both died.
And these were rich, flowing pieces, liberally sprinkled with anecdotes, ornamented tastefully with sprigs of humour, served with a main course of life well lived and topped off with valuable lessons for us who remain.
But you know the worst part? Sitting in the back of the church (I don’t do public speaking) listening to one of my eulogies being read. And everywhere heads are turning, whispered conversations all around:
“Miss Ting, dis is wonderful! You know who de body is dat dead?”
“Nooo! I recognise de name but dis isn’t anybody we know!”
What happened was this: I had worked with this fellow and later highlighted him in the column as a shining example for disadvantaged youth. He was raised in a notorious district, had little education. But he pulled himself up to hold down proper jobs, open his own business and prosper. A good friend.
We were out of touch for ten, maybe 15 years, until out of the blue he called to ask me to come see him in hospital. A few days later he was dead at a relatively young age. And his wife asked me to write a eulogy.
Alas, I didn’t know that since we last met he had become an awful alcoholic and his life had gone down the drain. I came to his funeral to extol a hero, the congregation had come to bury a drunkard.
His was a life that changed. In many cases, good and bad exist side by side. Recently, an outstanding Canadian Air Force pilot who had on occasion flown the Queen, admitted to  serial rapings, murders and 82 counts of breaking and entering to steal and put on women’s panties.
That is an extreme case, but we all hear of the nice gentleman at work who beats the hell out of his wife at home. Or interferes with boys in his spare time. Most humans have different sides and seldom do we get to know the total picture.
That will soon change if the scientists – don’t you just love scientists? – have their way. Raymond Kurzweil, who has 17 doctorates and is considered the new Thomas Edison, says that within a decade or so nanobot computers in our blood will back up our entire brain and memory. Imagine being able to recall every dissolute thought, word and deed for your entire life.
Great! My wife, and several irate husbands, will be able to get a printout and discover that, on at least two occasions, the mandolin player in Guataka watched the female singers gyrating and didn’t get a single lustful thought!
In contrast, David Thompson seems to have very little on the negative side. Everyone who had dealings with him, including my daughter, was impressed with his genuine concern and geniality. And I was more than pleasantly surprised when his Prime Ministership ushered in policies dear to my heart.
His mother used to drive down here to buy our goat’s milk and we had intended to put on our labels: By Appointment To The Prime Mother.
I only ever met him once – at a party at Ridley Greene. I was flattered that he took a chair next to mine, only to discover that it was a bowl of outstanding fish-cakes, rather than an outstanding columnist, that had attracted his attention. But he chatted pleasantly, between mouthfuls.
Only last Tuesday did Ridley remember to tell me that David had requested himself and Lowdown to perform – he’s obviously never heard us – at his home Christmas party. It would’ve been a great honour.
My condolences to his mother, wife and daughters.
Finally let me congratulate brother Tony, who reaches 80 this weekend. Tony left home while I was yet small but several attest he has a remarkable talent, which, according to one lady, “you can’t help but feel, especially if you’re dancing with him. I never got to put a finger on it, but you certainly know it’s there”. He could also draw good, play cricket and sail boats.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.